- Lamar Smith Trying to Revive SOPA (BoingBoing) — don’t hate Smith, pity him. He’s a prostitute, and it shouldn’t surprise that when released from prison he immediately returns to the street corner to hawk his pearly again. He’s a victim of a political system that requires politicians to sell their integrity to be elected.
- What Powers Instagram — I love seeing inside other companies’ technology. (via Hacker News)
- How to Recruit Open Source Contributors (Daniel Berkholz) — with actual data from Gentoo’s GSoC projects this year. Good stuff!
Reviving SOPA, Inside Instagram, Data Apps, and Recruiting Open Source Contributors
Assembly Crack, Political Pieces, Better Select Boxes, and Fairly Using Orphans
- Learn to Write 6502 Assembly Language — if retro-gaming is the gateway drug you’re using to attract kids to programming, this is the crack you wheel out after three months of getting high. Ok, this metaphor is broken on many levels. (via Hacker News)
- Small Political Pieces, Loosely Joined — MySociety: We believe that the wrong answer to this challenge is to just say “Well then, everyone should build their own sites from scratch.” […] Our plan is to collaborate with international friends to build a series of components that deliver quite narrow little pieces of the functionality that make up bigger websites. Common software components, perhaps interchangeable data … good things coming.
- How Fair Use Can Solve Orphan Works — preprint of legal paper claiming non-profit libraries can begin to work on orphaned works under the aegis of free use. Finally, regardless of a work’s orphan status, many uses by libraries and archives will fit squarely under the umbrella of uses favored by the first fair use factor (the “purpose of the use”), and their digitization of entire works for preservation and access should often be justified under the third fair use factor (the amount used). As such, fair use represents an important, and for too long unsung, part of the solution to the orphan works problem.
Budget App, Health Insurance Data, Perl Release, and HTML5 WYSIWYG Editor
- New Zealand Government Budget App — when the NZ budget is announced, it’ll go live on iOS and Android apps. Tablet users get details, mobile users get talking points and speeches. Half-political, but an interesting approach to reaching out to voters with political actions.
- Health Care Data Dump (Washington Post) — 5B health insurance claims (attempted anonymized) to be released. Researchers will be able to access that data, largely using it to probe a critical question: What makes health care so expensive?
- Perl 5.16.0 Out — two epic things here: 590k lines of changes, and announcement quote from Auden. Auden is my favourite poet, Perl my favourite programming language.
- WYSIHTML5 (GitHub) — wysihtml5 is an open source rich text editor based on HTML5 technology and the progressive-enhancement approach. It uses a sophisticated security concept and aims to generate fully valid HTML5 markup by preventing unmaintainable tag soups and inline styles.
Demythologizing Big Data, Online Scams, A Useful Computer Vision Library, and Opening Politics
- The Mythology of Big Data (PDF) — slides from a Strata keynote by Mark R. Madsen. A lovely explanation of the social impediments to the rational use of data. (via Hamish MacEwan)
- Scamworld — amazing deconstruction of the online “get rich quick” scam business. (via Andy Baio)
- Ceres: Solving Complex Problems with Computing Muscle — Johnny Lee Chung explains the (computer vision) uses of the open source Ceres Non-Linear Least Squares Solver library from Google.
- How to Start a Think Tank (Guardian) — The answer to the looming crisis of legitimacy we’re facing is greater openness – not just regarding who met who at what Christmas party, but on the substance of policy. The best way to re-engage people in politics is to change how politics works – in the case of our project, to develop a more direct way for the people who use and provide public and voluntary services to create better social policy. Hear, hear. People seize on the little stuff because you haven’t given them a way to focus something big with you.
Corruption Remains, Automated Instruction, Eolas Victory Incomplete, and CI Arduino Hack
- Why I Hate The STOCK Act (Clay Johnson) — an attempt to reform insider trading within government, but because Congress exempts itself from substantial penalties then it has little effect where it’s needed most. We won’t see change on the issues that matter to us (copyright, due process for Internet takedowns, privacy, etc.) while the lawmakers are distracted by money.
- Instruction Medium is the Message (Dan Meyer) — Print is a medium. Same as digital photos. Same as a teacher’s voice. Same as a YouTube video. Same as a podcast. These are all different media. And as we know, the medium is the message. The medium defines and constrains and sometimes distorts the message. The math that can be conveyed in a YouTube video is not the same math that can be conveyed in a digital photo or a podcast or a print textbook. Anything that can be replaced by a computer should be; it’s doubtful that successful widespread education consists only of things a computer can replace.
- Eolas Patent a Hollow Victory (Simon Phipps) — those who were extorted by the patent troll will go uncompensated, and the loss of one patent leaves their business model still intact. The patent system is extremely broken in the US, it’s a giant cost of doing business, a regulation-created tax that is paid to trolls instead of to the US Government. What idiot supports a tax that doesn’t go to the government? An ethically-corrupted one (see point 1 above).
- Monitor your Continuous Integration Server with Traffic Lights and an Arduino — nifty little hardware hack. It’s an example of making physical objects which control or portray virtual systems, and it’s tied into this Continuous Integration trend whereby software changes go live as soon as possible rather than being held off until 2am on the first Thursday of the month, when the IT team come in to manage the rollout of the new code. CI, in turn, is an example of failing early on something small rather than failing later and larger. (via Sandy Mamoli)
- Monki Gras 2012 (Stephen Walli) — nice roundup of highlights of the Redmonk conference in London. Sample talk: Why Most UX is Shite.
- Frozen — flow-based programming, intent is to build the toolbox of small pieces loosely joined by ZeroMQ for big data programming.
- Hi, My Name is Diane Feinstein (BuyTheVote) — presents the SOPA position and the entertainment industry’s campaign contributions together with a little narrative. Clever and powerful. (via BoingBoing)
The New York Times looks at the word counts of presidential candidates.
This week's visualization comes from The New York Times and is an example of the increasing usage of visualizations to make political arguments.
Wearable Computing, Secure Implants, Budget Game, Restoring Democracy
- Adafruit Flora — wearable electronics and accessories platform. (via Tim O’Reilly)
- Killed by Code — paper on software vulnerabilities in implantable medical devices. Discovered via Karen Sandler’s wow-generating keynote at linux.conf.au (covered here). (via Selena Deckelmann)
- DIY London — fun little Budget-Hero game to make apparent the trade-offs facing politicians. Kids should play Sim* and Civilization games: you get a sense of tradeoffs and consequences from these that you don’t from insubstantial activities. More City Hall games, please! (via David Eaves)
- Lessig on How Money Corrupts Congress (Rolling Stone) — glad to see Larry’s profile rising. This is key: I lay out my own voucher program that tries to do that, but the challenge isn’t as much to imagine the solution as much as it is to imagine the process to bring about the solution, given how entrenched the cancer is and how much the very people we need to reform the system depend upon the existing system. (see also an excerpt from Lessig’s new book) (via Long Now)
SOPA Politics, Google+ Scraping, Information Overload, Coding Education Game
- On the Problem of Money, Politics, and SOPA (John Battelle) — My first step will be to read this new book from Larry Lessig, an intellectual warrior who many (including myself) lament as bailing on our core issue of IP law to tilt at the supposed windmill of political corruption. But I think, upon deeper reflection, that Larry is simply playing chess a few moves ahead of us all. It’s time to catch up, and move forward together. THIS.
- Student Study Techniques — How to focus in the age of distraction. cf Clay Johnson’s Information Diet.
- Code Racer — interesting addition to the “teach me to program” world: a competitive game to drill your HTML/CSS recall. You race to add HTML and CSS in response to prompts like “add a level 1 heading with the words: Racing Car”. Requires Facebook login. It’s how kids learn to type these days, so it just might work for web design too. (In my day it was with a typewriter and a bib)
Maximum MySQL, Digital News, Unbiased Mining, and Congressional Clue
- How Twitter Stores 250M Tweets a Day Using MySQL (High Scalability) — notes from a talk at the MySQL conference on how Twitter built a high-volume MySQL store.
- How The Atlantic Got Profitable With Digital First (Mashable) — Lauf says his team has focused on putting together premium advertising experiences that span print, digital, events and (increasingly) mobile.
- Data Mining Without Prejudice — an attempt to measure fit without pre-favouring one type of curve over another.
- It Is No Longer OK Not To Know How Congress Works (Clay Johnson) — looking for a specific innovation to try and change the way Washington works by the time Congress votes on SOPA is about as foolish as Steve Jobs trying to diet his way out of having pancreatic cancer.